Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Baseball Betrayal With Buns, Burf, Boze and Bugs

April 19, 2012

This past Monday, Ken Amorosano and I had a meeting downtown at Channel 8 and he wanted to see some of the old downtown. I worked for a couple decades in downtown Phoenix and so I led the tour. Oh, my, how it's changed since the old days. Many new buildings an tons of urban renewal, which is a nice way of saying, Tear that old crap down and let's put something else there.

One of the historic sites we looked at was the Orpheum Theater, an ornate, rococo style movie theater that has been refurbished for plays and as a music venue. Ken asked me if I had ever been in the theater before. Yes, but it's been a while.

It was in the spring of 1965 and Mohave County Union High School's baseball team was in the Valley to play a double header. We played Buckeye on Friday and Tolleson on Saturday. We were staying at a motel on Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix. On Friday evening I decided I wanted to see the new Natalie Wood movie "Sex And The Single Girl," because, well, I was a senior in high school and the movie had the word sex in the title.

I talked three other teammates into going with me and we called a cab to take us to the Orpheum Theater, about a ten or 15 block run. As we pulled up, everyone bailed out of the car and I got stuck with the tab (it wrecked a $5 bill as I recall). I was so steamed, but it got worse. Halfway into the movie, one of the guys leans over and says, "Hey, Boze, we have a nine o'clock curfew and we need to go." And I said, "No way, I paid to see the movie and I'm going to see the movie."

They left and I watched the rest of the very anti-climactic (pun intended) movie. I got outside and there were no cabs. Phoenix was deserted. So I started walking and ended up walking, in the dark, the 15 blocks back to the motel.

But the best was yet to come. Someone in that group ratted me out to the coaches and for this infringment I got kicked off the team. Here are the suspects in the Orpheum Theater Betrayal:

Front row, left to right: Ray "Buns" Bonham, Wayne Rutschman, Rick "The Dick" Ridenour. Second row: BBB, Stephen Craig "Burf" Burford and Charlie "Bugs" Waters.

Asked to defend himself, Wayne said, "Okay, I see that my propensity for being a tightwad and a rat and a person who doesn’t appreciate Hollywood allegedly all came together at once on a certain Friday night in the spring of ’65. So what!? I don’t remember the detail of any of this and while I’m not saying some version of these events did not happen, Boze, why do you presume that this is the only thing that led to your being booted? Ya think your .081 batting average or running the bases backwards might have had something to do with it??...and this was simply the last straw?"

Speaking of being crushed by a close friend who once gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation, I just got word from Jeff Morey regarding the Packard Wyatt Earp is standing in front of —according to Anthony Martin, it's a 1926 Packard Model 326 Opera Coupe. According to Jeff Wheat who has a list of all of William S. Hart's cars, the auto in the photo of Wyatt is not on that list. So, the car does not seem to have been Hart's.

"There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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